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You see — as soon as I saw you approaching the house carrying all your load on your back like a tortoise, I knew that you had disgraced us in your husband’s house.

Did I not train you to be an acceptable wife?

The fire under plantains should not be too high, as it will turn black like charcoal.

This is how to cook Moi Moi. This is how to put the pureed black-eyed peas into leaves and fold them into a pot so the steam can cook them into fluffy cakes.

Why did you try plucking a chicken without putting the carcass into boiling water first, eh?

Do you want his mother to think I didn’t train you properly?

You have made your husband’s family send you away in shame because you were lazy and did not listen when I was showing you how to cook, clean and keep your husband happy.

An acceptable wife knows how to listen more than she speaks.

She knows when to be hard and when to be soft.

Did I not say that you should never ask him for anything in front of his mother or sisters? A soft spoken word from a woman in the bedroom can get the world from a man.

I told you that every month a woman needs to take care of her business. If he is a decent man, he will understand.

Some men may decide that because this is a regular thing we women have to go through and his needs are great, that he needs to get another wife.

You have to be prepared for that, as a man only truly belongs to one woman — his mother.

Did I not tell you not to call members of his family by name. . . you need to add a prefix — like Elder, sister, brother.

That’s why the witch of a sister picked a fight with you.  She thinks I did not teach you respect!

Did I not train you to smile even when you want to kill somebody?  Especially your female in-laws.

I told you to buy them gifts and always treat them with respect even when you know that they might be worthless creatures, maybe even witches.

If you do this when they want to fight with you, your husband will defend you and say, you wicked people? Has this woman not been good to you?

I told you to bear all these things in mind so that your husband will not have an excuse to use a shoe to slap your face and throw you out.

I said don’t come home crying to me and your father because it is not that I did not train you — it is you who refused to let training enter your thick head.

Now, where is that fish I asked you to clean.  No, you don’t cut it first — you need to use knife to remove the scales.  Are you sure your brain is bigger than that of a chicken?

Bring me my stick. Yes that one. It will help you to become an Acceptable Wife because as I said, no daughter that has come out from my stomach will disgrace me.

Do I want to beat you now?  No, I am using this stick as a toothpick.

Even if he beats you occasionally, it is so you can learn sense.

Tomorrow we will go and beg his people to take you back.

Now why are you crying?


Image by Bruno Zanzottera via 

About the Author: 

ola-nubiAward winning writers, Ola Nubi was born in London to Nigerian parents. She received an MA in Creative writing and Imaginative Practice at the University of East London. Some of her short stories are feature on, StoryTime, and Her short story, “Green Eyes and an Old photo,” is in the 2013 African Roar Anthology  edited by Ivor Hartman while “Ilusion of Hope” appeared in the NS Publishing short reads series—Wiping Halima’s Tears. She has a romance novel due for publication later this year.

Find more of her work {HERE} and {HERE}

Follower her on Twitter @createandwrite

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

14 Responses to “How To Be an Acceptable Wife | by Ola Nubi | A Story” Subscribe

  1. Pearl Osibu 2014/09/08 at 02:01 #

    First thing I read this morning and I love, absolutely. A typo in the very first paragraph almost put me off. Ainehi? Like I said, I love the simplicity and directness and lack of pretension to this story. The writer is pretty too.

  2. Gbolahan Badmus 2014/09/08 at 03:16 #

    “Do I want to beat you now? No, I am using this stick as a toothpick” That got me laughing. A good read.

    And as for the typo, I’ll just look the other way.

  3. zarah 2014/09/08 at 04:08 #

    hmm. Proper training and she still is clueless?
    Story of a woman life. An interesting read, loved it.

  4. Ainehi Edoro 2014/09/08 at 10:11 #

    Hey Gbolahan and Pearl,

    thanks for the typo-alert. It’s been taken care of.

  5. Nancy Henaku 2014/09/09 at 16:42 #

    Love it…. Reminds me of Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl.” Indeed so much is expected from women. I just had a class in which we discussed Brady’s “I want a wife”. Women, wherever they are, have to put meet all kinds of social standards. Sometimes I wonder shy one-half of the world should suffer forego so much in order to make the other half happier. Well, I am just talking too much. This is just my way of saying I loved it. Beautiful, beautiful piece.

  6. Nancy Henaku 2014/09/09 at 16:43 #

    Oh sorry. Just realised my post contains all kinds of mistakes. Pardon

  7. Nancy Henaku 2014/09/09 at 16:46 #

    Love it…. Reminds me of Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl.” Indeed so much is expected from women. I just had a class in which we discussed Brady’s “I want a wife”. Women, wherever they are, have to put up with all kinds of social standards. Sometimes I wonder why one-half of the world should suffer so much in order to make the other half happier. Well, maybe I am just talking too much. This is just my way of saying I loved it. Beautiful, beautiful piece. One day, I will use it in one of classes. Thank you.

  8. Obinna Udenwe 2014/09/10 at 17:21 #

    I just don’t know what to say. Its simplicity mesmerized me. 🙂

  9. Ola Nubi 2014/09/10 at 19:07 #

    Thanks so much for your kind comments. Glad you liked the story. Watch this space for my novel coming out soon.

  10. Yvonne 2014/09/14 at 12:20 #

    Beautifully written. Shows you just how much society expects wives to bend over backwards for the sake of ‘peace’. “A good woman is seen, not heard,” and all that nonsense.
    Interesting angle on the link between the woman’s monthly visitor and the husband wanting a second wife. Haven’t heard that one before.

  11. Yahaya Hassan Taiwo 2014/09/20 at 03:42 #

    Telling an ordinary story in a beautiful way! Very well done… Bravo.


  1. How To Be an Acceptable Wife | News24 Ethiopia - 2014/09/09

    […] Ola nubi […]

  2. An Excerpt from An acceptable Wife | olawritesfiction - 2015/09/17

    […] Click here for the rest of the story […]

  3. Monthly favorites from fiction, lifestyle and career help| Afoma Umesi - 2017/09/01

    […] ‘How to be an acceptable wife‘ by Ola Nubi. […]

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